The Incident of the Ballyragget Hurler Raises Some Women’s Rights Issues


In the days following his side’s victory in the Kilkenny county final against Graigue-Ballycallan, a young Ballyragget hurler was caught on camera dancing with two female escorts. The incident took place at his 21st birthday party in a local pub on the Tuesday following the victory and was unrelated to the hurling win apart from the fact that the cup (which the team was presented with following their victory) was still in the same pub from a few days before.

One of the two escorts (‘Fifi’) has since given an interview, saying the two girls agreed to appear at the 21st for €400. Pictures (and a video recording) highlighted the hurler’s actions and before long the young man’s behaviour was being labelled as sexually lewd, lacking empathy and quite simply, disgusting. There has even been a query from Ruhama (the charity that works with women affected by prostitution and sexual exploitation) with regard to his behaviour being unlawful.

The Ballyragget hurler - pictured with two local escorts

The Ballyragget hurler – pictured with two local escorts at his 21st birthday

The entire incident has been depicted in some quarters as disrespecting women in general quite apart from giving advertisement to a profession that largely utilises the services of vulnerable women who typically come from impoverished backgrounds.

Regardless of the spurious connections with the GAA that have been part of the debate in recent days, the furore still serves as a reminder of other sporting organisations who have disrespected the fairer sex in more recent times:

  • Until a secret ballot of membership in 1996, the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin had maintained its status as an all-male association
  • The Sandycove Bathers’ Association did not permit the famed Forty Foot swim spot in Dublin to be used by females for many years
  • Portmarnock Golf Club still disallows ladies to hold full membership of the club
The 'forty foot' at Sandycove, Co. Dublin

The ‘Forty Foot’ at Sandycove, Co. Dublin

It is worth mentioning that one of the female escorts in the Ballyragget incident was reported as feeling happy with the fact that her activities were becoming known to the greater public. This meant that she would have more income from further customers following the exposure. It raises the question of whether these women have a choice at all in their actions?

With regard to prostitution, there are women in Ireland who disagree on whether the profession is something that degrades them but instead, is a choice that some women view as being an attractive occupation. Kate McGrew, a Director at Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, believes that selling sex is a worthwhile profession and that prostitution ought to be decriminalised in Ireland.

Kate McGrew - Director at Sex Workers Alliance

Kate McGrew – Director at Sex Workers Alliance

One wonders if Brian Cody will be calling up the young Ballyragget hurler to play for his county? Doubtful, considering his lack of height and his limited footwork – well in the video anyway!

About the Author

Conor Hogan
As a native Galwegian, Conor Hogan teaches and consults across the areas of education, well-being and health while also researching human behaviour for his PhD at NUI Galway. After winning regional and national leadership awards, he blogged and co-authored a book on Mental Health for Millennials. He tells us he will endeavour to enrapture the glint of the Galway Eye 🙂 You can find out more about Conor at